And That Happened: Wednesday's Scores and Highlights

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Phillies 7, Diamondbacks 1: Domonic Brown’s debut was a splendid one: a
single, an RBI double and a sac fly. Carlos Ruiz had two RBI doubles. No
pressure on the offense on this night, however, as Roy Halladay took a
shutout into the ninth and ended up with the complete game.

Braves
3, Nationals 1
: Jason Heyward Stole Home. I want to crow about this and
add it to his legend and everything, but this wasn’t exactly the
Jackie-Robinson-sliding-under-Yogi’s-tag mental image we all get when
someone says “so-and-so stole home.” Basically Brian McCann was
dead-to-rights on either a steal or a botched hit and run between first
and second and got himself caught in a rundown long enough to let
Heyward come in from third. Yes, that’s technically a steal of home. We
should either call that or the more dramatic straight steal of home
something else though. Because one is pure beauty and the other is just
kind of a mess.

Giants 10, Marlins 9: The Giants blew a 7-1 lead
but Andres Torres — who had earlier splashed one into McCovey Cove, hit
a walkoff RBI single in the tenth. It was really kind of a ground rule
double in that it bounced over the wall, but since there was a runner on
third it goes in the books as a plain old single because that’s all
that was necessary to score the winning run. I’m going to call it a
ground rule single, though, because that just sounds more fun.

Cardinals 8, Mets 7: The Cardinals jumped out to a 6-0 lead in the first and led 7-2 as late as the sixth inning, when Jaime Garcia hit a wall and Mitchell Boggs threw kerosene on the fire. Six relievers and seven innings later St. Louis prevails on an Albert Pujols RBI single in the 13th. The last time Garcia and Johan Santana faced each other it went 20 innings, however, so this was a crisp one by comparison. 

Reds 10, Brewers 2: Brandon Phillips hit a monster grand slam that bounced off Bernie Brewer’s big, twisty yellow slide. This never would have happened if they had just left his cool, little, beer-stein slide out there the way God and Nature intended.

Astros 8, Cubs 1: Two homers for Carlos Lee. If he has another day like that one his OBP may inch over .300 and his SLG may top .400. For his part, Lee credits new Astros’ hitting coach Jeff Bagwell. The Astros would probably be better off if they activated Bagwell instead.

Blue Jays 5, Orioles 0: Brad Mills — who had only two undistinguished starts in his career before last night — gets the callup for the Jays and the Orioles make him look like he’s Greg Maddux (7 IP, 2 H, 0 ER). A decent night for O’s starter Jeremy Guthrie too (7 IP, 6 H, 0 ER). I’m surprised there hasn’t been more trade chatter about him.

Red Sox 7, Angels 3: Joel Piniero was scratched before the game with an oblique strain and Scot “I haven’t started a game in seven years” Shields got the call. He went an inning and two-thirds, gave up a couple of bombs, threw too many pitches and was followed by a parade of relievers who kept the Angels in it by virtue of the Sox leaving so many runners on base. Marco Scutaro ended the competitive portion of the game with an eighth inning grand slam.

Twins 6, Royals 4: So much for that “Brian Bannister is great in day games” baloney that people (me) like to spew. Banny was roughed up for five runs on 11 hits in six innings. Of course given how the Royals’ pitchers had been doing against Minnesota this series, that qualifies as a gutsy, effective outing. A three-run bomb for Delmon Young, whose wonderful season continues. At the outset I had assumed it was a Faustian bargain kind of thing, but the more I see, the more I think that just maybe he’s made The Leap.

Rays 7, Tigers 4: Eddie Bonine: a reliever is pressed into service as a spot starter and the results were quite Scot Shieldsian (3.1 IP, 8 H, 5 ER). Matt Joyce and Carlos Pena continue to do damage against the Tigers. Which reminds me: yesterday I joked that the Rays should run out a lineup of old Tigers. In that lineup, I included Ray Oyler, saying that he was about to turn 72 next week.  Which he would have if he hadn’t died 29 years ago. I regret the error, but I stand by using Oyler in a gimmicky lineup because you can say what you want about him, but his plate patience is way better than it was back in his playing and living days.

Padres 6, Dodegers 1: Five Padres pitchers combine to four-hit the Dodgers. But don’t worry: Scott Podsednik will be in uniform tonight, so the offensive equation will totally change.

White Sox 6, Mariners 5: A rough start for Mark Buehrle, but the Sox overcome it with the longball. Bobby Jenks strikes out the side in the ninth for the save, so we’re back to normal there.

Pirates 6, Rockies 2: Colorado’s post-break nightmare continues. Pirates starter Ross Ohlendorf was hit in the head with a comebacker in the first but made it to the hospital and back before the game ended. The game lasted 3:17, so you figure with travel time and however long the game had gone on when he was hit, he was at the hospital for less than three hours. Query: have any of you ever gotten out of a hospital visit that quickly for an injury/observation kind of thing? My wife fell and thought she broke something once and we were there for, like, seven hours. It’s good to be a ballplayer.

Athletics 3, Rangers 1: Trevor Cahill two-hits the first place Rangers over eight innings. Kurt Suzuki hit a solo homer, had an RBI single and was driven in to score a third run by Jack Cust.

Yankees 8, Indians 0: The Yankees pounce on Fausto Carmona for seven runs in the first three innings and never look back. Six and a third shutout innings for A.J. Burnett. Joba Chamberlain came in in the seventh, walked Andy Marte and then balked him to second before settling down and retiring the last two batters of the inning. I’m sure this will analyzed to the nth degree in the tabloids today.

Who Should win the Rookie of the Year Awards? Who Will?

LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 05:  Corey Seager #5 of the Los Angeles Dodgers reacts to his three run homerun for a 6-0 lead over the Arizona Diamondbacks during the fifth inning at Dodger Stadium on September 5, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
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With the regular season ending on Sunday and most of the playoff spots locked up, there’s really only one big thing left to argue about: postseason awards. So let’s spend some time looking at who should win each of the four major awards and who will win them. Which are often totally different things. Next up: The Rookie of the Year Awards

This is a whole heck of a lot easier than the MVP and Cy Young Awards, that’s for sure. It’s a two horse race in the AL and a one-horse race in the NL.

Who should win the AL Rookie of the Year Award?

It seemed like Tigers starter Michael Fulmer would be the no-brainer choice for a good long while, as his low ERA and solid performance helped carry the Tigers when their starting pitching wasn’t doing them any favors. But then the Yankees called up catcher Gary Sanchez at the beginning of August and all he’s done since then is hit .303/.378/.672 with an astonishing 20 homers in his first 51 games. Fulmer has continued to be solid — he’s just short of qualifying for the ERA title, but does have the league’s lowest ERA at 3.06 — but Sanchez has been spectacular.

The MVP and Cy Young Award require full season contributions. Not everyone takes the Rookie of the Year Award quite as seriously, it seems, and are thus more willing to entertain smaller samples of excellence over large samples of solid work when it comes to the award. That’s how Bill and I think about it anyway, giving the nod to Sanchez’s historic two-month run. Ashley, however, favors Fulmer’s larger volume of work. You can’t really go wrong with either choice:

Craig: Sanchez
Bill: Sanchez
Ashley: Fulmer

Who will win the AL Rookie of the Year Award?

Hard call. I have no idea what voters will do on that quantity/quality calculation. I’ll guess Fulmer, but it’s just a guess. I could just as easily see Sanchez given some quasi-MVP credit for helping the Yankees remain relevant after the trade deadline and throw it his way.

 

Who should win the NL Rookie of the Year Award?

If you say anyone other than Corey Seager, and his .311/.369/.519 26 homer batting line, the state has authorized me to have you taken to a hospital for 48 hours of examination, at which point your competence to reenter society will be gauged. But there is ice cream there.

Craig: Seager
Bill: Seager
Ashley: Seager

 

Who will win the NL Rookie of the Year Award?

If any BBWAA voter lists anyone other than Corey Seager at the top of his or her Rookie of the Year ballot, the state has authorized me to have them taken to a hospital for 48 hours of examination, at which point their competence to reenter society will be gauged. They will not, however, be allowed to have any ice cream because, really, they should know better. They’re professionals.

Jeremy Giambi vs. David Ortiz

jeremy-giambi
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The 2002 Red Sox won 93 games, only to finish 10 games behind the Yankees in the AL West and six back of the lone wild card. They named Theo Epstein the GM that November and allowed him to begin reshaping the team, then led by Pedro Martinez and Manny Ramirez.

The Red Sox didn’t make any big splashes that winter. Their biggest free agent signing was Ramiro Mendoza, who got $6.5 million for two years. They also signed Mike Timlin and Bill Mueller (who played behind Shea Hillenbrand at third initially). They traded for Todd Walker. They stole Bronson Arroyo off waivers.

What Epstein did totally overhaul was a first base-DH situation that held the team back the previous season. 2002 trade deadline pickup Cliff Floyd exited in free agency, as did disappointments Tony Clark and Jose Offerman.

Brought in was a three-headed monster of underappreciated, high-OBP, Moneyball-type players. First, the Red Sox traded Josh Hancock to the Phillies for Jeremy Giambi, who had just hit .244/.435/.538 in 156 at-bats after coming over from the A’s at midseason. He hit .272/.402/.475 in 684 at-bats total between 2001 and 2002, and he looked like he was still very much in his prime at age 28.

The day after the Giambi trade, the Twins made the move to release David Ortiz. No one pounced, though, and Ortiz remained unsigned for a month before joining the Boston on a one-year, $1.25 million contract. Ortiz, who was entering his age-27 season, hit .272/.339/.500 in 412 at-bats for the Twins in 2002.

While that was going on, the Red Sox were working to bring in Kevin Millar for first base. Millar hit .306/.366/.509 in 438 at-bats for the Marlins in 2002 and was even better the previous season, but he was a poor outfielder and third baseman and the team already had Derrek Lee at first base. So, the Marlins, rather than trade Millar for a player, sold him to Japan for some much-preferred cash. Millar, not realizing that he was a desired commodity around the league, went along with the plan. That’s when the Red Sox broke an unwritten rule and claimed Millar off waivers. It turned into a long ordeal, but the Red Sox were finally able to land Millar in February by buying him from the Marlins.

I remember at the time being most excited about the Giambi acquisition. He couldn’t play defense and he had gotten himself exiled by the A’s for some transgression the previous year, but he looked like an awesome offensive force with his terrific power and ridiculous walk rate. Ortiz was certainly worth taking the chance on, too, but I thought Giambi would be better and leave Ortiz with little to do.

Indeed, Giambi started over Ortiz on Opening Day. However, both got off to lousy starts and Giambi’s playing time quickly diminished. Giambi finished April at .125/.288/.292 in 60 plate appearances, starting only once in the final week of the month. Ortiz came in at .212/.311/.346 in 61 plate appearances.

Both players found their strokes at the beginning of May. For Giambi, though, it amounted to all of about two weeks of success. He peaked with an .828 OPS on May 16. Ortiz’s build was slower, but it lasted. He had a .942 OPS in May, a .961 OPS in June, a .987 OPS in July and a 1.097 OPS in August before plummeting all of the way to .977 in September. He finished 5th in the AL MVP balloting despite playing about half the time the first two months.

Giambi, finding himself more starved for at-bats after Ortiz heated up, landed on the DL in late June with a bad shoulder. At the time, it looked like it might have been a made-up injury to get him playing time in the minors for a spell. It wasn’t. He returned a few weeks later, but he still wasn’t right. He made his last appearance on Aug. 1, going 0-for-3 against the Orioles. He landed back on the DL and then underwent surgery to repair damage in his labrum and rotator cuff.

As it turned out, Giambi never played in the majors again. As he was trying to come back from the shoulder surgery the next spring, he developed back problems. He played in 17 minor league games with the Dodgers in 2004 and nine with the White Sox in 2005. That was it for him, and he was done at 30 years old. In early 2005, he admitted to using BALCO-provided steroids and said that he regretted it. The strength training likely played roles in both his emergence and his downfall, given the breakdown of his body.

Things worked out a little differently for Ortiz…

Ortiz through 2002 (age 26): .266/.348/.461, 108 OPS+ in 1,693 PA
Giambi through 2002 (age 27): .269/.381/.437, 114 OPS+ in 1,549 PA

Ortiz after 2002: .290/.386/.570, 148 OPS+ in 8,387 PA
Giambi after 2002: .197/.342/.354, 81 OPS+ in 156 PA

And those 2003 Red Sox? Well, they won 95 games, which was good enough for the wild card this time. Still, they lost to the Yankees in seven games in the ALCS. They were still one year away.